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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya…
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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)

by Maya Angelou

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Maya Angelou's Autobiographies (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,466165408 (3.98)1 / 475
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English (163)  French (1)  All languages (164)
Showing 1-5 of 163 (next | show all)
Clearly a classic for a reason. Some of it weirdly does not actually age well (some of her comments on the Chinese and the Japanese--while she makes a critical point about Black folks being able to fill in spaces violently made open by Japanese internment, there were still definitely some moments where I was like "yikes" that I hadn't expected, as well as the whole lesbian thing which speaks to her life but is also kind of cringe-y,) but definitely beautifully crafted and 100% makes me want to read the other autobiographical pieces she's written. ( )
  aijmiller | Apr 29, 2019 |
I know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou; (4*)

Written in such lyrical language, this is a very powerful story. It explains much about the end of the segregation era. Angelou rises to heights unreachable by other autobiographical writers of this era.
It is a wonderful story telling of life as black woman supported by family and dismissed by society. The author warns of future times that may present the same challenges. ( )
2 vote rainpebble | Mar 16, 2019 |
I tackle this "review" with the same reluctance I felt toward reviewing [book:The Diary of a Young Girl|48855]. This is the telling of a life. Yes, it is a powerful work of literature, and the wordsmithery is something to admire. But ultimately I can only respond to this book the way I would if had the privilege of sitting across from Ms. Angelou while she told me her story, which is how much of it reads. This book showed me experiences I will never have, in the way all great literature does.

I loved young Marguerite. My heart could envision her growing up years, her sensitive soul that those who knew her called "tender-hearted" (sometimes not in a complimentary fashion). I didn't know much about the book going into it, but I had heard (I don't even know where) about the rape scene. It is, of course appalling. But another story in this book affected me more.

As a teenager, Marguerite goes to work as household staff. The white woman she works for mispronounces her name as "Margaret," but Marguerite shrugs and laughs this off because the woman stupidly doesn't know any better. Then one day, a guest suggests that "Margaret" is too much of a mouthful and the woman should call her "Mary" instead.

So. The woman does.

There's something powerful in the act and fact of naming. In fiction, the fantasy genre uses names often as a source of magical power; in many cultures, naming can hold religious significance; somehow we feel my name is myself even if we've never verbalized that before. The degree of disregard and disrespect required to rename another human being--casually, for one's own convenience--is beyond my ability to fathom. Is this the worst thing to happen to Marguerite in the pages of this book? Absolutely not. I can't explain why it hit me in the face harder than any other piece of the story. But it did, and I won't forget it or this book. ( )
  AmandaGStevens | Mar 2, 2019 |
A memoir from Angelou's earliest years to the birth of her first child. There's a lot of terribleness in this era of segregation and Jim Crow, but also a lot of love and joy - and even a fair amount of humor. ("Preach it!") And wow, could Angelou ever write a sentence. Even the darkest passages contain the most beautiful phrases. It makes you want to read it nice and slow, to savor all those amazing words. Recommended. ( )
  melydia | Dec 27, 2018 |
Amazing book! Angelou somehow captured her childhood essence with all the honesty and purity of thought that only a child can evoke. Simply brilliant and tragic and hopeful and honest and thought-provoking and HUMAN! ( )
  AliceAnna | Nov 16, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 163 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maya Angelouprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rutten, KathleenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is dedicated to my son
Guy Johnson,
and all the strong black birds of promise who defy the odds and gods and sing their songs
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What you looking at me for?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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James Baldwin Writes:

This testimony from a Black sister marks the beginning of a new era in the minds and hearts and lives of all Black men and women...
I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity. I have no words for this achievement, but I know that not since the days of my childhood, when the people in books were more real than the people one saw every day, have I found myself so moved ...
her portrait is a Biblical study of life in the midst of death."

The Moving and Beautiful autobiography of a talented black woman. She continues her story in gather together in GATHER TOGETHER IN MY NAME, SINGIN' AND SWINGIN' AND GETTIN' MERRY LIKE CHRISTMAS and THE HEART OF A WOMAN.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553279378, Mass Market Paperback)

In this first of five volumes of autobiography, poet Maya Angelou recounts a youth filled with disappointment, frustration, tragedy, and finally hard-won independence. Sent at a young age to live with her grandmother in Arkansas, Angelou learned a great deal from this exceptional woman and the tightly knit black community there. These very lessons carried her throughout the hardships she endured later in life, including a tragic occurrence while visiting her mother in St. Louis and her formative years spent in California--where an unwanted pregnancy changed her life forever. Marvelously told, with Angelou's "gift for language and observation," this "remarkable autobiography by an equally remarkable black woman from Arkansas captures, indelibly, a world of which most Americans are shamefully ignorant."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:44 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Presents the story of a spirited and gifted, but poor, black girl growing up in the South in the 1930's. Tells how she came into her own, experiencing prejudice, family difficulties, and a relationship with a teacher who taught her to respect books, learning, and herself. The moving and beautiful autobiography of a talented black woman. "I have no words for this achievement, but I know that not since the days of my childhood have I found myself so moved. Her portrait is a Biblical study of life in the midst of death".-James Baldwin.… (more)

» see all 13 descriptions

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